We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Tuesday, December 2. 2008
This is from our guest poster Bruce Kesler -
What if Peter, or Paul, is your son?
If Peter is your child, then you might think at least twice about robbing Peter to pay Paul.
Indeed, if Paul is your child, you might think twice about when Peter runs out of money to rob.
Today, we’re moving beyond robbing to literally looting Peter, and Paul will face standing on his own.
Our older, unionized industries centered around the domestic auto companies are yammering for federal tens of billions to keep them breathing a while longer. Meanwhile, their smothering, very generous retirement pension and healthcare benefits are, at best, likely to be hardly trimmed.
Our states, whose heavily unionized employment has grown faster than in private companies, face almost $2 trillion of future payments on retirement benefits for which they don’t have funding. Add in localities and the unfunded debts climb even higher. Meanwhile, our governors clamber for hundreds of billions from the federal government to keep their mini-welfare states going with, at best, small temporary spending cuts.
Our federal government faces the imminent bankruptcy of Medicare and Social Security under the weight of trillions of unfunded benefits. Meanwhile, nothing is done, while the remedies become more severe. Add to this the trillion dollars or so, hidden behind misleading titles like “stimulus” or “growth”, already committed and more to come to briefly cushion the shock to some politically favored sectors.
Where is all this money to come from?
It can only come from four sources: It can come from increasing taxes or cutting future government benefits, both of which land on our child Peters, and the latter on our Pauls, to reduce their standard of living and their incentives to excel and produce. It can come from foreign and domestic lenders, the debt payments mounting and interest costs increased by the reduced credibility of repayment in non-inflated dollars. It can come from speeding up the currency printing presses, devaluing investments and savings. It can come from our Pauls learning to more care for themselves.
At a point in the not too distant future our Peters may well no longer have enough resources left to be robbed for the Pauls.
Our Pauls better learn, fast, how to be more productive and care for themselves.
We have a pretty clear choice: The first choice is we can continue the fiscal and moral insanity of robbing Peter to pay Paul, of the impossibility of sustaining our heavy subsidies of so many currently over-benefited adults.
Or, we can redouble and redirect our efforts to provide a practical education to our Pauls. That means several things. It must be made clear, throughout our society, which includes our
The first choice, of fairly blithely continuing on the current path, downward, will soon hit a dead, self-destructive end. The second choice will then not be a choice to be managed but the only harsher way remaining. The sooner we head toward the second path, the easier the way will be.
The first step is to recognize that both Peter and Paul are our sons, to be cared about enough to be set on the right path.
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One easy (no threat of physical harm) way to begin is by doing thus: organize parents and grandparents (maybe just grandparents) to confront local schools and refuse--REFUSE--ABSOLUTELY REFUSE--to allow them to put into effect a "no grade system". A system of teaching that does grade according to levels of accomplishment, i.e. A,B,C,D, F. Moving steadily in from the liberal coasts is this trend in your local schools, and they are starting in elementary school. They tell you that it helps the child gain a better self-esteem. BS! It allows the union to place their obedient ones into any job as they see fit. This non-meritocracy must be stopped! and, it not begins in elementary school. GET ORGANIZED FOLKS, if you really want your freedom, your democracy, and your safety returned to your hands!
Totally agree with "faculty wife." Once again, anywhere a union/bureaucracy/tenure exists we face increasing costs and lower quality...a consistent chipping away at standards while pensions, benefits and other freebies go up, up, up. Our educational system is just one more example.
Our family spent 16 years VOLUNTEERING in our public school system just to make certain our children had a balanced view of what life required, and it was a miserable job countering the nonsense taught by college professors since our children no longer lived at home.
These educators ought to be required to run a business (determine a unique product, price it correctly, deliever it on time, meet payroll, adhere to multiple levels of regulations, negotiate with employees and vendors AND make a profit) before they are allowed to teach. Same goes for polticians and anyone else who benefits at the public trough. It's always easier working with other people's $$$.
It may surprise everyone who reads this blog, but the no-grading system is a dumb idea which has been tried before. When I was in early grade school, back in the 1930s, the Chicago school system decided to institute "grade books", a progressive-education device whereby no effort was made to test the progress of students on a regular basis. Students were just supposed to toddle along at their own pace, learning stuff when there wasn't anything better to do, like staring out the window and throwing spitballs at other equally hardworking students and getting into all sorts of other mischief. In my case, I had an active imaginary life which I found much more interesting than arithmetic and factual learning of any kind. [Writing I liked, and couldn't be prevented from doing. But math -- ohh no, not math!]
I dam' near flunked third grade, folks. And, as you know, I'm not particularly stupid. What I was, was too young and undisciplined to be given the choice of learning or not learning. Most third graders are undisciplined. And learning stuff is hard. It's an old and lousy idea to eliminate the grading system, and to give young children, all of whom have Short Attention Span Syndrome [SASS] the choice of learning something new, and haaarrd, or throwing spitballs. The spitballs will always win.
Don't let the NEA, with its old, badly planned ideas that they have repeatedly tried and failed to succeed with, taint your children's learning opportunities. The NEA has already had a bad effect on traditional learning for our youngsters. More and more parents today are choosing to homeschool their children, in order to ensure that they have at least a good factual foundation from which to pursue their own directions in learning.
We already pay taxes to fund elementary and high schools in our cities, where teachers are supposed to teach our children history, English studies, mathematics, civics [or don't they do that any more?] and other solid, fact-based subjects. We don't pay them to teach such rubbish as gender studies, comparative religion, or any other subject in which the teacher's own opinions and prejudices trump the actual presentation of facts. That's for advanced learning in colleges and universities, where presumably the students have acquired enough judgment to decide whether what the professor is saying is crap or not.
Of course, there are good teachers in America, some great teachers, like Betsy Newmark whose blog, Betsy's Page, is a regular daily read for me. In primary and secondary schools throughout America there are heroes and heroines who daily carry the torch of learning to their sometimes reluctant students. But the National Education Association has become a powerful political force in America. And their frequent inability to discern what is trash and what is treasure in the world of learning is damaging to our young people. There are only so many hours in a school day, and if you are going to spend them propagandizing about global warming and our vanishing rainforests and how mean each of our two sexes is toward the other, you won't have time to teach the lessons of history, and how to structure a sentence correctly, much less arithmetic, mathematics, science, et al.
As an 80-year old woman, looking back on a full life, I credit my good and great teachers for giving me a precious legacy which has stood me well during life's vicissitudes, and helped me earn a good living. We should back the excellent, inspirational teachers in our world as strongly as we can. They are a national treasure.
The "no grades" idea predates "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance", but garnered its best fans there. The interesting part is that Robert Pirsig utilized this approach as a MOTIVATIONAL method, not a method to manage his students. Interestingly it DOES work at a very low level. Pirsig found the total absence of grades caused performance to fall. However, by not providing grades on each piece of work, the "worry factor" kicked in, and kids tried harder on individual pieces of work. Each one received a review prior to the grading period, and he found overall performance rose.
However, he noted that giving grades was critical to the success of this approach. You cannot simply abolish them.
The above article, however, was about debt. The institution of fiscal stimulus is a Keynesian approach to economics which was hijacked by Reagan Conservatives in the early 80's and abused beyond belief. It is currently a matter of pride to say we can run deficits and grow our way out of the deficits due to their fiscal stimulus.
This is NOT true, and Keynes even said it was impossible. What made it "true" to conservatives was the "Laffer Curve" which showed that cutting taxes would increase revenues. This is only true if marginal tax rates are at punitive levels, as they were in the early 80's. Today, being on the downward side of the tax curve's low-tax tail, we are in a situation where we must RAISE taxes to decrease deficits. Cutting taxes won't do the job anymore.
This isn't to say that our debt is burdensome. It is BECOMING burdensome. But consider this - most homeowners have a debt load that is upwards of 6-10X income and about 80% of net asset value. We can manage these debt loads, and so can the government.
However, with the bailouts, we are now surpassing these levels. We are reaching unsustainable levels of debtload...literally robbing Peter to pay Paul. Our children will suffer mightily if we don't do anything. We must take action.
As good citizens, liberal or conservative, we must realize that some taxation is a good thing - providing good services. This has to be a matter of acceptance and fact. However, we must DEMAND that spending be cut BEFORE taxes are increased. This is because spending is out of control. With or without Iraq/Afghanistan, spending is out of control...and must be tamed.
But politicians are parasites and cannot be tamed. They will tax and spend us to oblivion.
And they are teaching our kids that it is OK to think this way as long as they are Democrats and vote properly...at least that is what I'm seeing at my kids' school. There is not an outright push for kids to be Democrats, but they are taught horrible economic lessons....and are told it is all the Republicans' fault.